In Italy, comic strips, or “i fumetti” are more than just a diverting literary past-time, it is an art. Look around in Italian trains, bus stops and cafés are saturated with people absorbed into their beloved comic series, showing just how deeply they pervade Italian culture. The work of Milan-based illustrator and cartoonist Roberto Zaghi, shows us that i fumetti are more than just cartoons. A graduate of the University of Ferrara, Roberto Zaghi was a passionate comic enthusiast since he was a kid when he first immersed himself into the world of marvel comics. Along with American superhero cartoons, a pivotal influence in Roberto Zaghi’s comic illustration came from the Japanese cartoons of the seventies. After working on a fantasy and sci-fi series for Italian publisher Sergio Bonelli Editore, Zaghi was brought on as an illustrator on his career-defining comic series, Julia, a detective story featuring Audrey Hepburn as the muse for the female lead and written by Giancarlo Berardi. Roberto Zaghi was also the hand behind the illustrations for Lorenzo Calza’s noir novel La commedia è finita, and is most recently illustrating the story lines of the French comic series Thomas Silane, written by Buendia and Chanoinat for the French publisher Bamboo.
Roberto Zaghi’s distinct style recalls the black and white shadowing and mystery of film noir cinema. His earlier influences by American Marvel comics is retained in his work and style which emphasizes the “dark line,” or the contrast between dark and white spaces to enhance the drama of the story and guide the reader through the plot. His drawings are ripe with narrative imagery yet retain a feel of minimalism, while bringing the drama and atmosphere of the stories to life. To tell a story is a challenge in its own right, but to translate the words of another Creative into imagery that carries the weight of the narrative’s emotion, tension and pace, requires a creative faculty of an entirely different level, one which Roberto masters with impressive style, insight and flare.